The Best Work I Saw at the LACP Portfolio Review Part 1

 

Hollywood is hip these days.

It’s always been popular as an idea, of course.
As “Hollywood.”

But I’m talking about the actual part of Los Angeles; one section of the many that stitch together the Megalopolis. In that respect, Hollywood is just the North-Central part of LA where Hollywood Boulevard sits just above Sunset as they intersect with Vine.

The place where the Hollywood Walk of Fame resides, and Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

It’s like Times Square in New York, or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, in that it’s clearly built for, and subsists off of tourists. There are trinket shops galore, hotels aplenty, and lots of bars next to drunk-food-restaurants.

No lie, on Selma, 1 block from my hotel, a high-end Tao sat across the street from Danny Trejo’s Mexican bar & taqueria, which was itself next to a Poutine joint. (Which I couldn’t resist.)

The guys working the counter, where they sling the cheese fries and gravy, were dressed like Canadians, in lumberjack patterning. They told me they only open up outlets next to bars or colleges. (Makes sense.)

I got accosted by some drunk guys, as I awaited my poutine, even though it was barely 8pm. They took me for Israeli, which never happens, and pretended to slap me in the face as I stood there, daydreaming.

Minding my own business.

Cursing myself for being gluttonous enough to order cheese fries and gravy for dinner.

They offered poutine topped with bacon, beef, chicken, or lots of other artery-clogging-to-the-point-they-should-have-a-cardiologist-office-next-door toppings, yet I stuck with the plain version.

And boy did it give me indigestion later that night. Big mistake, getting the cheese fries and gravy for dinner.

Wait.
Where was I?

Right.
Hollywood.

I was there to work, of course, so I didn’t sample the clubs or the bars. Instead, I limped my tired dad-bod around the neighborhood to grab food, (lacking a car, as I mentioned,) or I was next door reviewing portfolios at the LA Center of Photography.

The organization, which is now non-profit, was long known as the Julia Dean Workshops, so Julia Dean is now the Executive Director of the LACP. Apparently, they changed the structure and name about 4 years ago.

Their portfolio review, Exposure, is held in their school space there on Wilcox, and also at the DNJ Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. (Hence the multiple Ubers.)

It was a well run event, and the people in charge are genuinely helpful and friendly. (Here’s your shout out, Brandon and Sarah.) The organization has been around for a while, but the review is relatively new, as it was the first time they were bringing in reviewers from the outside. (I was joined by Brian Clamp and Elizabeth Avedon, two New Yorkers.)

Most of the people at the reviews have taken classes there before, and many had studied with Aline Smithson, who teaches Fine Art Photography for the LACP, and has for years. We’ve shown many of her students’ work here before, and I’ve been consistently impressed.

But others were less trained, so as usual, I tried to be helpful, and point out to people where their strengths seemed to lie, and where they were weak.

Today and next week, we’re going to feature the best work I saw at the review. As usual, my criteria for what to show you are based on a few simple concepts.

1. Are there enough contiguous images to show you a proper sample of someone’s ideas? (Meaning 2 or 4 good pictures is never enough.)

2. Does the selection show a well-executed vision?

3. Are these pictures at least visually pleasing, if not genuinely brilliant?

If I see that range in someone’s portfolio, I’ll try to show it here.

As I’ll be doing 3 more portfolio reviews for you guys this year, (in Chicago, Santa Fe and New Orleans,) I thought it was worth the slight diversion to explain how I choose what’s worth publishing.

So let’s get started, and, as always, the artists are in no particular order.

Silvia Razgova recently moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, having spent the previous few years living in the United Arab Emirates. (I think I’ve got that right.) She showed me pictures from the UAE, that were cool, but I was far-more-seduced by these medium format gems from her hometown of Hradok, in Slovakia.

Her color palette is pretty dreamy, and I liked a few of these very much. But overall, they fit the conditions above, as they’re well made, consistent, and show us a slice of her world, which we’d otherwise never see.

Anto Tavitian was amazed when I guessed he was Armenian. (I felt confident I was right, but you never know.) Later, he realized my trick.

“Was it the ‘ian’ at the end of the name,” Anto wondered?

“Yes,” I said, “you got me.”

That said, Anto showed me the deconstructed book pages from his BFA project at Cal State Northridge. He’d made a photo narrative about his immigrant Armenian-Syrian parents, and included the repeating motif of the tight shot of a coffee cup.

As coffee was so important to the story, he also stained the book pages with it, creating a dappled-brown effect. And the few text pieces, and one drawing, that were interspersed are cool too.

Jamie Siragusa is currently enrolled in a one year program at LACP, and was working on street photography. She’s interested in photographing children, but didn’t want to do it in a conventional way. So she’s focusing on kids at political protests.

We all talk abstractly about what our actions will mean for our children, or grandchildren, so she wanted to make pictures about those descendants now. In particular, kids who are being vocal with their disapproval by protesting in public. (Mostly with their parents, of course.)

Dan Lopez showed me a book, “Constellation Road,” which featured these LA cultural landscape photographs. I thought his sense of color and composition was really strong, and he definitely captured some of the bright harshness of the California sun as well.

(Sidebar: part of why I didn’t go on huge walks through Hollywood, rather than snobbery, was that the sun is so damn strong in July. Be forewarned.)

I told Dan I thought it was hard to separate his work from the photographers who’d come before in this tradition, as he admitted being influenced by the usual suspects. (Shore, Eggleston.) It’s tough to find an original voice, I admit, but the more we try to push away from the things we’ve seen a million times before, the more likely we’ll get there.

Last, but not least, we have Brian McCarty, whose work is the edgiest of the bunch today. Brian makes a living photographing toys, as it’s his commercial specialty. (So he’s really good at it.)

As such, he ended up doing a project in which he tries to use toys to help children in war zones, particularly in the Middle East, to process their trauma. He’d just gotten back from Mosul, in Iraq, which is an extremely active fighting spot, and admitted that he’d been shot at twice, and had been lucky to survive.

He and his organizational partners, (he mentioned the UN,) ask children to make drawings of their horror stories. Then, they re-create the situation, sometimes quite literally, with toys, and Brian makes the resulting photos.

They are strange and cool, and some of them are very sad. He often exhibits them side-by-side with the drawings, so people can see the source material. Not surprisingly, the drawings are quite tragic.

That’s enough for today, so we’ll be back next week with part 2.

Personal Projects: Kent Miller

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Kent Miller

It’s the lost processes of photography – old film, large format view cameras – that enticed Photographer Kent Miller to start this current and ongoing project. He returned to his roots and found new inspiration in the old ways of working. His commercial work began over 25 years ago before the digital rage, so shooting film again feels like returning to an old friend. Using black and white film, some dating to the early 1900’s, has caused him to adjust how he shoots, to slow down the way he makes images. This project involves finding old film, then producing images of friends, artists, creators, and everyday people who move in and out of his life. After exposing the film, he develops and scans it. When the series is completed, his plan is to print each image by hand, the old school way, in a darkroom.

Jamie McCarthy photographed in Westchester, NY for creators project. Photograph was made using a Linhof 5×7 large format camera with Ilford FP4. Developed in D76 for 8.5 min. ISO-3, F6.8 @ 1 second

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Spencer Lowell: The New York Times Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

The New York Times Magazine

Design Director: Gail Bichler
Art Director: Michael Willey
Deputy Art Director: Ben Grandgenett
Photographer Director: Kathy Ryan
Associate Photo Editors: Amy Kellner, Christine Walsh, Stacey Baker
Photographer: Spencer Lowell

Heidi: How difficult was it to get to the location considering how remote the seed vault was?
Spencer: The seed vault actually isn’t that remote once you get to the town of Longyearbyen, which is only a couple of connecting flights from LA. You can actually see the vault from the airport up in the mountainside. It has to be accessible because it’s opened up a few times a year for deposits to be made. The biggest difficulty was dealing with the -20 degree temperatures once I was actually at the vault.

What was your security clearance process for the vault?
After some googling, I emailed the press department at the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food and told them I was working on a project for the New York Times and wanted to photograph the vault. They wrote me back saying the vault was actually going to be open the following week for a deposit and let me know I was more than welcome to come. I booked my travel and was there the next week. I assume they looked at my website but besides that, there was no security clearance.

Did you have to wear protective gear considering how precious the subject matter was?
For the shoot at the seed bank, I was wearing an obscene amount of layers because of how cold it was so no additional protection was needed. I could bare my hands being out of my gloves for a few seconds if I needed to change my camera and light settings but all the actual shooting was with gloves on.

Regarding the frogs, the staff who handled them were wearing gloves but my assistant and I didn’t touch them ourselves so we didn’t need to wear anything protective. However, we did have to clean the bottoms of our shoes before entering the facility to make sure we didn’t drag in any contaminates.

The biggest safety concern on this project was the shoot with the orangutan, Batang and her baby, Redd. Because their DNA is so similar to ours, they’re actually susceptible to our diseases. So I had to get tested for Tuberculosis the week before the shoot, which luckily I didn’t have and the shoot would’ve been called off if I’d had even a slight cold. Ultimately I had to keep my distance and wear scrubs, a mask and gloves.    

How long were you allowed in the seed bank?
I was allowed inside the vault for a total of about an hour between two visits. I also went back for another 3 visits to shoot the exterior.

How if at all do you think differently about food security, the fragility of life and our handprint on nature after this project; how did you try to convey that in your work?
We’re in the midst of the sixth mass extinction this planet has experienced. Four out of the other five extinctions were caused by climate change. The difference with what we’re seeing now is that human impact is changing the climate and it’s happening over decades rather than over thousands of years.

We know this because the ancient atmosphere is trapped in ice, which we’re able to extract from cores and study. I’ve seen a lot of images of ice melting but I felt like images of ice being artificially frozen would carry a powerful message. So, when Amy Kellner at NYT Mag asked me if I had any ideas for climate change stories, I pitched shooting the National Ice Core Lab. She was into the idea and asked if I could find any other facilities storing other natural assets. From there we collaborated on the story along with the writer, Malia Wollan until it became what it is.

It’s easy to forget that we’re a part of nature. We may live in cities and use tools but the fact is, we’re part of the natural world and are capable of causing natural disasters. With that said, we’re also capable of preventing them. That’s the main thing I learned from doing this project- that the hard work and dedication of a few can begin to counteract the mistakes our species is making as a whole.

How much underwater photography had you done prior to the reef shots?
I actually got certified to scuba dive for this job. Once I knew the coral nursery was going to be a component of the essay, I wanted to be the one to shoot it. I’ve always had a crippling fear of the ocean but I figured there wouldn’t be a better excuse to move through it. By the time I finished the scuba classes, the fear was gone.

Because I’d never shot underwater, I asked a photographer friend who has done some work underwater if he knew a good underwater assistant and he recommended a guy by the name of Mark Nakagawa. Mark is a seasoned diver and has worked in photo and video underwater so he helped me prep for the shoot and flew with me to the Keys to assist. We did four dives in the two days we were there and I couldn’t have done it without him.

Where there any technical obstacles for this project?
This was the most technically challenging project I’ve ever worked on because of the extreme shooting conditions. Between the below freezing temperatures, working underwater out in the ocean and being in the presence of living things that are either rare or no longer exist in the natural world, there was no margin for error. I like working with limitations because I’m forced to make decisions but this shoot left absolutely no room for second guessing.

What did you learn about your self creatively on this assignment?
I believe the creative process is in a constant state of refinement. I graduated from college almost a decade ago and I still strive for the same things that I did when I first started my career, I just have more clarity in vision and execution now. Creatively, my goal is to always keep things simple which I feel I was really able to achieve on this project because I didn’t have a choice. Passion for the subject matter plays a major role in my process and I find nothing to be more important than the future habitability of our planet.

What was the direction from the Times photo staff?
The whole project was a collaboration with Amy Kellner directly and Kathy Ryan and the rest of the photo department via Amy. With the exception of the Frozen Zoo in San Diego, I had multiple days at each location. So I would send Amy images with my notes from the first day’s shoot at each location and see if there was anything specific she wanted me to focus on the following day(s). If she asked for anything specific, I would do my best to deliver and regardless I would just shoot as much as possible. The clear stream of communication back and forth from the very beginning was the biggest contributing factor to the success of this project.

This Week in Photography Books: Henry Wessel

 

 

I’ve been to Southern California at least twenty times in my life, and I’ve always had a car.

Every. Single. Time.

You’ve got to have a car in Southern California.
(Or so I thought.)

Back in May, a friend told me she’d just gotten around LA using ride-sharing services, which for some reason are insanely cheap at the moment. (Much less expensive than taxis.)

She made me half-swear that I wouldn’t rent a car the next time I went to LA. So when I visited the city last week, I subsisted on cabs and Ubers alone, even though I wasn’t able to download Lyft or Uber on my phone the day before I left. (Long and boring story. I’ll spare you.)

I must say, not having immediate access to go where I wanted, when I wanted, was a seriously uncomfortable feeling.

It’s no surprise that cars are symbolically associated with freedom. I guess if I had a new Iphone, and my own ride-sharing app, that feeling might have abated, but I’m not so sure.

As one who’s lived in the American West for a chunk of my life, I know that things only work at car distances. Otherwise, the cities and towns dotted from the Rockies to the Coast would never truly be connected.

Cars are almost like water out here, in how necessary they are for survival.

We all crave the revelatory feeling of being on the open road somewhere, with your favorite music blasting. The yearning for discovery and adventure is hardwired into the human experience.

It’s the opposite feeling, in every way, to being stuck in traffic, staring at the same cars for an hour, while you inch along a concrete ribbon, and you could probably walk faster if you really tried.

Everyone hates that feeling.

Everyone.

The traffic-anger, which I felt getting in and out of LAX, reminded me of a photobook I’d looked at just before I left New Mexico, and which sits before me this very moment: “Traffic/Sunset Park/Continental Divide,” by Henry Wessel, recently published by Steidl.

It’s one of the best books I’ve seen in a long time, (no doubt,) and features three of his seminal projects from the past. Mr. Wessel, if you’re not familiar, was a part of the famed “New Topographics” movement, documenting the California cultural landscape with a dry eye over many decades.

The thing that makes the “Traffic” pictures so immediate for me is the way he boxes in the compositions. We never see the front or back of the cars he’s showing us. You never get the compositional freedom, the fresh air, of open space.

Frankly, these pictures are great. They’re just so damn Californian. And all the period cars and outfits? What more do I have to say?

(Well, I guess I now see Lee Friedlander’s Post-Millennial series “America by Car” as being in dialogue with this project.)

But the “Sunset Park” images were my favorites, for sure.

Like many of you, I read the recent New Yorker profile of Gerhard Steidl, which presented him as a cross between Steve Jobs and Jesus. I won’t say it seems excessive, because I believe all these people, but I wasn’t a Steidl cultist before looking at this book.

And now I am.

The separations are mind-boggling. I’ve never seen shadow detail like this, in conjunction with three dimensional reproductions that pop off the page.

The luminosity of a few of these pictures compares to looking at a retina display, and I don’t understand how that’s possible.

Apart from the technical virtuosity, though, I love this group of images, and it reminds me that we understand so much of art by what has come before.

I lived in San Francisco back in the day, and saw Todd Hido’s “House Hunting” show at the Stephen Wirtz Gallery around 2000. It’s the exhibition, and project, that shot Mr. Hido to stardom, as the creeper-stalking-outside-people’s-houses-at-night vibe, along with the sharpness and color, was super-memorable for me.

Now that I’ve seen this book, though, I know that Todd Hido was heavily influenced by “Sunset Park,” as Mr. Wessel is a Bay Area legend, and longtime professor at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Last week, when I saw this book, I had that thought. And then this Saturday, at the Rose Gallery in Santa Monica, right there in their Summer group show, they had one of those Hido pictures hung just below one of Wessel’s.

No lie.

The “Continental Divide” series, the last of the bunch, is my least favorite. If I’m being honest, it seems to wrap up our little summer conversation about books by locals vs. travelers.

For me, the California pictures are more original, as they spring from deep knowledge. In the Western pictures, on road trips around dusty towns, Mr. Wessel was exploring, rather than reporting from his own little spot in the world.

The images look far less distinctive to me than the Colorado pictures by Robert Adams, Mr. Wessel’s contemporary, and I don’t think that should surprise any of us, at this point.

We ought to know more about our own world than the places we just visited for the first time.

Right?

Bottom Line: Masterpiece book, featuring work by a San Francisco legend

To purchase “Traffic/Sunset Park/Continental Divide” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Kris Connor

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Kris Connor

As I move throughout this world of ours, I wonder at times..how would I have seen and lived in this world if I hadn’t gone through limb lengthening as a child?.  Where “Dawson,” gave the viewer a glimpse into what it’s like to go through limb lengthening for Dawson. ”What Difference a Foot Makes,” answers that question for myself and to give a viewer two different perceptions of the same world. One through my eyes at being a 5’2 person and how I would have seen the same world at 4”3.

I was born with achondroplasia, which is the most common of the 200 plus types of dwarfisms. Most people who have the condition average around an adult height of four feet, my predicted height was going to be 4”3 without any additional operations.

At ten years old, I made the decision to go through my first limb lengthening operation. Over the next five years I would go through a total of three operations on my upper and lower legs to gain 12 inches and one operation to gain four inches on my arms.

The operation started in Russia in the 1950s by Doctor Vetlana Ilizarov.

It’s an operation where pins are inserted into the leg or arm and a fixture is placed around the extremity and the bone is broken. Over the next three to four mouths months screws are turned to spread the bone apart and the patient gains an average of four to six inches. Many patients have multiple operations to gain addition height.

”What Difference a Foot Makes,” is a story told with 21st century technology and through social media. All the images are shot using an iPhone, as many of the scenes are part of everyday life and situations that I come across. I will take a photo of a scene at my current eye level and then one at where my eyes would had been without limb lengthening. The images are then layered in an app called “Collage King,” creating a diptych with my current height photo on top and the 4’3 eye level photo on the bottom. Video diptychs have been created as well to show the view what it’s like to navigate through places such as Time Square. The diptych is then uploaded to the “@whatdiffernceafootmakes” instagram account and shared with the world.

To see more of this project, click here.

On Instagram, click here

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Stock Licensing

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Licensing: Web Collateral use of up to three images for two years

Photographer: Southeast-based portrait specialist

Agency: N/A – Client Direct

Client: The philanthropic arm of a recognizable consumer brand

Here is the estimate:

A seasoned portrait photographer came to us looking for assistance pricing a stock licensing agreement for a large corporation interested in using three existing images on the “.org” website of their philanthropic division. The shoot had originally been commissioned by an editorial client for a piece about the subject’s philanthropic endeavors and organizations, so before determining the value, we first had to review the original commissioning agreement to ensure the photographer had the ability/permission to license the images to a third party. Even the most favorable editorial agreements typically include an embargo period which may prevent one from licensing content for a reasonable period of time after publishing and some of the least favorable editorial agreements restrict licensing in more substantial ways. As it happened, these images were available to license, so on we went.

The difficulty with determining the value of any licensing, as it is all so subjective and project specific, is figuring out an anchor price from which to adjust, based on the various contributing factors. At Wonderful Machine, we use a tried-and-true benchmark that sets the baseline cost for collateral use (“Collateral” use is when the work appears in or on a platform that the client wholly controls and produces, such as a company website, annual report, brochure, or social media profile, and is intended to promote a commercial product, service, personality or brand) of one image, for one year, at around $1000, and additional images licensed for concurrent use should be worth about 50% as much as the first image. We also use a pricing model that assumes a doubling of the duration of use should increase the worth by about 50% more than the initial duration value. These “rules” can break down really quickly, as general rules tend to do when you move too far from the baseline. In this case, however, we were still very much within the tolerances.

Pricing this project out based on these guidelines would set the value of the first image at $1500, and each additional image at $750, for a total licensing fee of $3000. With this anchor in mind, I began factoring in all of the variables that apply upward or downward pressure on the value. Much like estimating licensing fees for a commissioned shoot, valuing stock requires you to consider the prominence of the client, scope & duration of the requested use, and the importance of the content to a given “campaign.” But you also have to consider the uniqueness of the subject matter, availability of similar images in the marketplace and the prospects & costs of recreating the content (or very similar content).

These images didn’t depict the client’s products or services in any way and the subject matter wasn’t terribly unique – the images were lovely, straightforward, environmental portraits of the subject in her workspace. Although the content didn’t make these images unique, the availability of similar images, or lack thereof, did. There were very few stock images available in the marketplace. This applied upward pressure on the value of the images. Also, reshooting was pretty much off the table because of the subject’s scheduling constraints and general aversion to being photographed. This, combined with the general inconvenience and uncertainty of commissioning a new shoot, meant that we could push past any reshoot “price ceiling” that may typically apply. So not only are existing images rare, but creating new photos would be a tall order. Again, this pushed the value up. The license was limited to web collateral use which tugged the baseline number down (our guideline is based on both print and web). But since the client is an arm of a name-brand multinational mega-company, the value jumped, even though the particular arm of the organization is 100% philanthropic in nature.

The intended use of the pictures was informational, almost editorial. The client was interested in the images because the subject ran an organization that relied on the client’s products and services to further the organization’s core mission of doing some form of good in the world. The client was basically writing a case study about how they’d partnered with the subject to help her to do good. Additionally, this was one of many such case studies on the client’s website, meaning it was valuable to the client, but not mission critical, exerting downward pressure on the value. Finally, the case study could be effective with one image, but three would be slightly more impactful by offering a touch of variety. If the client had been requesting images that each featured a different founder, we’d be less likely to drop the additional image rate quite so much, if at all. All this to say that our usual price breaks for additional images would be appropriate.

Taken together, I felt the upward pressures were more significant than the downward pressures. Accordingly, I added 50% premium to the baseline rate ($3000) to account for the additional value, setting the quote at $4500.

RESULTS/HINDSIGHT:

There’s an opportunity to push the envelope a bit when pricing stock because, in most instances, the photographer has more leverage and is dealing with a captive audience. In this case, I may not have pushed the envelope enough, as the client quickly accepted and returned the signed quote. Even though the photographer was happy with the fee, I still wondered if perhaps there was a little dough left on the table.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Maggie B. Kennedy: Garden&Gun

- - The Daily Edit


 Garden&Gun


Design Director: Marshall McKinney
Photography Director: Maggie B. Kennedy
Associate Photo Editor: Margaret Houston

Heidi: You came from the commercial side of photography as a creative director at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. in San Francisco. What surprised you about editorial photography now that your 11 years in the game?
Maggie: I think working on both the commercial and editorial sides of the photo industry has proved beneficial. I had the opportunity to work with so many talented photographers, stylists, art directors, creatives, etc. during my decade with Williams-Sonoma years as well as be exposed to the various company departments and business overall. How a photograph of a beautiful table setting or friends cooking together sets the tone of a brand. So much is thought about before the actual photograph is taken. Many of the photographers I was fortunate enough to work with at Williams-Sonoma shot both commercial and editorial projects. I think that time marked the beginning of the advertising/commercial world starting to explore a more editorial/lifestyle approach you see in campaigns today. I think the two worlds continue to weave together to keep up with new business models, whether for a retail company, a magazine, any business now. It’s all about creating a larger brand, a lifestyle.

When you left San Francisco, what did most of your peers say about your moving to a start-up?
I continued to work with Williams-Sonoma for a few years after relocating to Charleston, SC (Garden & Gun magazine’s hometown). A lot of the photographers and creatives I worked with for so many years in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, etc. thought I had lost my mind moving back to the South!! (I’m originally from North Carolina.) I, too, questioned my decision those first months after landing in Charleston but was ready to be back on the East Coast. But the start-up didn’t enter the picture until a year or so later. I decided to take a leap of faith when I met Rebecca Darwin, Garden & Gun’s president and CEO and one of the founders. She’s an incredible businesswoman and inspiring both professionally and personally. I instantly had a gut feeling and wanted to jump on board! That was September 2006. The first issue of Garden & Gun hit the newsstands April 2007.

Garden & Gun has a dedicated audience. Tell us the story behind the name and how this lifestyle stole everyone’s heart.
The name “Garden & Gun” comes from an old Charleston nightclub, popular in the late ‘70s. The Garden & Gun Club. Rebecca thought the name really captured the personality of this new magazine. The “garden” is a metaphor for the land that is the South, the “gun” for the sporting life. Both are key components of our content as well as food and drink, culture, literature, music and art. Nothing like it existed on the newsstand when the magazine was born a decade ago. And the response and dedication from our readers from the beginning has been like nothing anyone has ever seen. Passionate is putting it lightly! We received a letter from an avid reader in the first few years – “If you ever close down Garden & Gun, we will hunt you down and shoot you.” Jokingly of course but this letter is framed in our office and speaks to the heart of the brand.

The brand has exploded in its first decade and now has a store, hosts events, has a podcast, etc. Tell us about the first few issues and the genesis of the brand.
It really has been an honour and a privilege to have played a role in getting G&G off the ground since the first issue. It’s come a long way and definitely been a wild ride! That first year it was all hands on deck, only a few people doing a little bit of everything to make G&G a reality. From the beginning, photography has played a large part in the brand visually and it’s exciting to see that continue.

How did the magazine benefit from the recession in the mid-2000s  ?
The magazine was launched in Spring 2007, right before the great recession. Not the best timing but in the end proved G&G really was a unique brand. We did everything we could to keep the doors open and our readers were so supportive. The recession made G&G stronger than ever and showed us just what this brand could become. It was a time when so many magazines were closing in New York. Even though it was a struggle, I think we benefitted from being independent and not based in NYC. Everyone involved with G&G at that point was fully vested with their heart and soul. It wasn’t just a job, we really believed in what we were creating and so did our readers.

The magazine covers lively people and places off the grid, have you had any production challenges or difficulty explaining to subjects what the shoot entails?
Absolutely! But that’s what makes the best stories after ten years. I think that is one of the reasons photographers like shooting for us. Usually, for me, it’s “how are we going to pull this off with barely any budget and within only a week!” The name of our magazine turned heads in the first few years but I’ve always loved sending a copy of the magazine to a photographer, stylist, etc. so they can experience the content. Then they get it and are intrigued to learn more. It’s definitely helped to have a few years under our belt now to secure more high-profile subjects – actors, musicians, etc.

Your magazine celebrates emerging talent, how do you find your photographers?
One of my favorite parts of the job is finding up-and-coming photographers and working with them on a first project. Since we’re a general interest title, I get the opportunity to work with all types of shooters – food, still life, portrait, travel, etc. I enjoy discovering emerging talent through a variety of sources – emails, portfolio reviews, social media, blogs, word of mouth. I’ve been lucky to see some of our younger photographers develop professionally through this first decade of G&G. (And sometimes I can still get them on a project if I’m lucky!!) The biggest compliment is to see a G&G shoot on a photographer’s website and know they were inspired by the assignment.

Every title has some obstacles to overcome, such as remote locations and weather what else are you confronted with and what are your solutions?
G&G covers very specific subjects in unique locations. Probably 95% of each issue is original photography. That definitely keeps a two person photo department on our toes! One of my favorite “in the field” stories was many years ago. Photographer Jim Herrington shot Morgan Freeman at home in Mississippi. It was a project we’d tried to make happen for a long time and once we got the green light, everything had to come together in a matter of days. I checked in with Jim to see how the shoot was going and received this photo. No words, just photo. That’s the sign of an epic shoot!

Photographer Jim Herrington on assignment at Morgan Freeman’s farm in Mississippi. I emailed Jim to check in and see how the day went and this was the reply.

We always want to think about pairing personalities together (photographer and subject) that will make the best mix. A little matchmaking I guess! Earlier this year photographer Bill Phelps travelled to Gatlinburg, TN for us. The assignment was to take portraits of survivors of the horrible fire that happened last November. A few of the subjects were, of course, apprehensive about having their portrait taken and reliving that awful night. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen and wanted to ensure they were comfortable and earn their trust. Even the day Bill arrived in Gatlinburg we still weren’t sure if one or two of the subjects would go through with it. Visually, these portraits needed to be artful and stoic rather than documentary in nature to make it feel right for G&G. Bill’s portraits speak for themselves and he and I were both so moved by the project and getting to know these individuals.

Despite being based in Charleston, you’ve been invited to be an SPD judge and involved in the NYC industry scene. What are the benefits of being a bit further from your industry peers?  
We all feel lucky to be able to do what we do in Charleston. Anytime a photographer is in town and stops by our office, they want to figure out a way to move here! Rather than an obstacle, our location away from NYC and independence has allowed us to follow our own creative path which is part of the brand loyalty and success. We’ve a national magazine that’s won two ASME General Excellence awards and received other industry recognition in our first decade. We just happen to have a different zip code. I’ve loved being an SPD judge as well as involvement with other creative organizations based in NYC or other cities. I do wish I had opportunities for more regular interaction with industry peers. It’s always an honor to have G&G recognized.

What were some of your favorite images?
I love all the work we do, if I had to choose a cover, I’d say the Oct/Nov 2012 cover – biscuits. One of my all-time favorite covers, we were thrilled to win ASME’s Most Delicious. Photographer Johnny Autry.

 

Chef Ashley Christensen photographed by Peter Yang. Peter was trying to think of what to do with this portrait when he looked out the window of Ashley’s restaurant in Raleigh, NC and saw a man walking his pig down the street. Barbeque is very fitting for this chef but we didn’t tell the pig owner that. Only happens in the South!

 

Photographer Rush Jagoe and the 610 Stompers in New Orleans, LA. A photo shoot that was inspiring and fun enough to deliver a little video as well.

 

Photographer Erika Larsen’s portrait of author Barry Hannah. One of the last photos taken before the legendary Southern writer passed away.

 

The photo of Morgan Freeman looking in the mirror. Jim Herrington took that in Morgan’s mother’s former home on his farm in Mississippi

 

Photographer Peter Frank Edwards on assignment in rural Virginia. He has photographed for G&G since the very first issue and is such a big part of the brand visually. Hard to choose just one of his assignments through the years but this falconry project was one of the more challenging and “open to interpretation.” We ended up turning in into a photo essay.

The Daily Promo – Embry Rucker

- - The Daily Promo

Embry Rucker

Who printed it?
These were printed & mailed by Modern Postcard – They are great. I printed my very first postcard with them in 1997 ish. It was a sunset silhouette of Stonehenge, wish I knew where that slide was.

Who designed it? 
Designed & laid out by my good friend & talented artist Dustin Ortiz dustinortiz.com We have worked together on a few projects now & he always has a great new eye on things.

Who edited the images?
Dustin & I worked on that together. I usually have a batch that I think ‘work together’ & he helps establish a priority or hierarchy. For example, having Tony’s face so big on the promo was his call, I would have been maybe a little leery of that because its… so big. But, fuck it, its a great shot of a cool looking dude – sometimes you just need someone to tell you that ‘yeah, that’s rad, run it big’.

How many did you make?
Around 2000, Mailed 1500 ish & picked the remainder up locally at Modern Postcard for hand written notes, leave behinds & a bunch for my reps.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
2-3 times a year ideally, but, I always have ambitions of doing more than I actually send out.

The Daily Promo – Ryan Anderson

- - The Daily Promo

Eric Ryan Anderson


Who printed it?
We worked with Chris Young at Prolific Group, wonderful experience.

Who designed it?
My friend Kayla Kern who does all kinds of amazing things.

Who edited the images? This promo all started with the harness racer image. I knew I wanted to print it large, and once we decided on a poster, Kayla helped me choose from a few options that made sense on the back. We chose the Tracksmith (shirt over head) image to lie under the mailing label since it was a bit more intriguing.

How many did you make? We printed 1000 of these and sent them out to a list of creatives and agencies who have a hand in the activewear/sports markets. I’ll usually hold on to 50-100 to use as leave-behinds for meetings and such.

How many times a year do you send out promos? Usually only think about it once we have a slow week or two and start questioning our existence : ) Jokes aside, I’ll send a print piece usually once or twice a year. I generally like doing things that have a design element and that I’d enjoy receiving in the mail (zines, newsprint, posters) and hope that there are others who enjoy the same thing out there!

This Week in Photography Books: Raphael Shammaa

 

It’s the middle of July, which means many of you are on vacation.

Yes, it’s holiday time again. No doubt about it.

I’m not getting to beach myself, this summer, so if you’re reading this on your Iphone, in between dips in the blue water somewhere… I hate you.

(Just kidding.)

I don’t hate you. What kind of writer would hate his audience? That’s insane.

Rather, I’m going to do you a solid. I won’t make you read 700 words today before I get to the book review.

Not today.

I’ll keep it short, and show more pictures at the end to make up for it. Think of it as my way of saving you a few extra brain cells, while you recharge your batteries.

You’ll need the help, as I’m off to Los Angeles tomorrow for portfolio reviews put on by the LA Center of Photography. I’ll have lots of fresh work to show you in the coming weeks, so today you get a reprieve.

Surprisingly, this week’s book comes right out of yesterday’s mail. It never even made it into the pile.

It’s a slim volume from Raphael Shammaa called “The Simplicity of the Moment.” (I believe it’s self-published.)

I don’t know anything about the artist, (beyond the fact that he has a great name,) and the book doesn’t have much to say either. There’s a short statement indicating the pictures were taken in various locations, and that he’s going for simplicity and truth.

Mostly, the words were vague because these are very visual pictures. They’ve got structure and sharpness, which are characteristics that will often get you reviewed in this space. And the printing quality is very high.

Frankly, I just like this little book.

Though I’m as happy to dig deep as the next guy, what I most enjoy about this one is that it suggests, gently, that you don’t need to bother. The beauty is of a Zen kind, but also of the synchronous temporal variety that photography does so well.

Like I said, today, we’ll keep it brief. In the PR letter that he sent out with the package, Raphael wrote, “There are so many ways we can work together.”

Well, Raphael, I just reviewed your book, so that’s about as much as I have to offer.

Enjoy summer, everyone, and I’ll be back next week.

Bottom Line: Beautiful, slim Zen book of travel photos

To purchase “The Simplicity of the Moment,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Eric Meola

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Eric Meola

Storm Chaser

 I began photographing tornadoes and storms out in the heartland of America several years ago. As springtime approaches, I become restless with the need to get out into the prairie, the flat grasslands and the empty, eerie landscapes of the states that form tornado alley: Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Texas and Colorado and New Mexico. I like to look at clouds, I love to photograph them—this is where I can be a kid forever. I’m reminded of the Minor White quote, “A photographer is someone who has his head in the clouds and his feet on the ground.”

 The photography of storms and weather phenomena is, for me, an exploration of the ephemeral, the constantly changing shapes and movement of the atmosphere. My photographs are meant to capture the dichotomy between the fury of skies torn apart and the tranquil, lonely solitude of the Great Plains.

My notebooks from chasing storms reflect the Buddhist-like state of meditation and peace I get from being out on the open prairie, simply looking at the sky:

The sky unfolds in sheets of light, shedding its skin, changing texture like a torn sheet folding in upon itself. Undulating in luminous bands, the ghosts of the wind fade into each other, their shapes changing again and again into other forms. A thin line runs along the prairie’s edge, defining the space between the sky above the land below—a boundary without a boundary, a place called infinity.

I go out to the Great Plains for the contrast and contradiction between the quiet, peaceful loneliness and that ominous foretelling of Armageddon when the sky turns dark and a howling wind erupts in blinding clouds of dust.Darkness comes, and with it the eerie green light of hail. The sky goes black, pulsing with flashes of turquoise, crimson and amber. You hear hail cutting through the trees, and watch it rushing towards you on the dashboard radar. Perhaps a twister will drop its thin spindle from the clouds tonight and race across the prairie’s ruler edge. In slow motion a supercell forms, pulling hundreds of acres of red clay topsoil more than ten miles up into a roiling sky. In the fading light, I photograph clouds lit by the glow of lightning, and then the night sky filled with stars. Scenes from a wild prairie night burn into my mind forever as the darkness is punctuated by staccato blasts of lightning.

I am working on a book of my photographs with the tentative tittle Fierce Beauty: Storms on the Great Plains, and publishing it in 2020.

Photographs © Eric Meola 2017

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Jolie Wernette-Horn

- - The Daily Edit

Shahrukh Khan is Bollywood royalty and also on of the top paid actors in the world. Vogue India Celebrated his 50th birthday, photographed by Mazen Abusrour.

Mumbai native and International star, Freida Pinto sat for Bharat Sikka for Vogue India’s 6th anniversary.

The chemistry onset was undeniable with Bollywood it-couple, Deepika Padrone and boyfriend Ranveer Singh, shot by Tarun Vishwa.

Deepika Padukone is one of the reigning queens of Bollywood, shot by photographer Prasad Naik.

The Ambassador car is a classic Indian design. Shot on film by Vikram Kushwah.

This gallery of Indian designers and their black pieces was shot on film by Vikram Kushwah for Vogue India’s 6th anniversary issue.

 

Supermodel Pooja Mor sat for photographer Bharat Sikka in this stunning editorial paying sartorial homage to fashion of the Indian subcontinent, styled by fashion director Anaita Shroff Adajania.

Irani cafes in Mumbai are a dying breed. Travel photographer Hashim Badani teamed up with Vogue India stylist (and fiancee) Priyanka Kapadia for one of my favorite shoots of 2016.

Manish Malhotra is one of India’s top designers, here photographed with Bollywood ingenue Alia Bhatt photographed by Vikram Kushwah

Vogue India

Editor in Chief: Priya Tanna
Fashion Director: Anaita Shroff Adajania
Creative Director: Jolie Wernette-Horn
Senior Fashion Editor: Priyanka Kapadia
Fashion Bookings Editor: Divya Jagwani

Heidi: Prior to Vogue India, you had a strong background in fashion publications here in the US, how did your role as Creative Director different if at all in India?
Jolie: I find the position of art director or creative director is basically the same. While responsibilities will, of course, change from magazine to magazine, even in New York, the main idea is to create and maintain a visual voice for the magazine.

Does Vogue India produce all original content?
We produce about 85-90 percent of our own content. The other 15 percent comes for any of the other Vogues, W, Glamour, and Allures. But, as an Indian magazine, we do aim to showcase women from the subcontinent. For example, we don’t often use blond models as it really doesn’t pertain to our audience.

I had done a redesign for Claudia, a Brazilian magazine set in Portuguese where the words are very long, this posed a design challenge for the cover and the typography selection. What cultural surprises did you have at Vogue India?
Luckily for me, Vogue India is produced entirely in English. The biggest challenge for me, and a constant learning curve, is finding out what will actually resonate with an Indian audience. For example, when I arrived in India I knew almost nothing of Bollywood, either of its current stars or its colorful history. Its hard to contribute to photo concept discussions for an upcoming celebrity shoot when you have no idea who that celebrity is or what has been done in the past! Six years laters, I can finally tell the difference between Kareena and Katrina.

What were the obstacles you had and how did you overcome them?
Compared to New York, the pool of talent is much smaller in India, as is the magazine industry itself. Because of this, unlike our American counterparts, it is very rare that we can claim exclusivity of a photographer or model. There have been months where one photographer shot covers for 5 difference magazines!

But there is new talent, and it is maturing and growing at an exponential rate, even in just the 6 years that I have been here. As a creative director, your job is always to decide what you think are the bet traits to focus on in bigger, existing talent and also to find and foster new talent. There is even more pressure to do this in India with fewer resources. We also have a lot of international talent floating around. Especially after Vogue Greece folded, there was a strange, yet fabulous, influx of Greek talent!

How has working internationally shaped you as a creative?
As an American and living in New York, it is easy to become very insular. People say that New York is the center of the world and I think I started to believe that. In moving to India, everything I thought was put into question. India has a completely autonomous fashion industry, with designers that hold the same stature here that, say, an Oscar de la Renta or Michael Kors would have in New York. Bollywood has its own superstars and a-listers that rival Hollywood for fans and influence. Personally, I  think the idea that America and New York are not the end-all-be-all of the universe has matured me. Professionally, I find this concept freeing. I think it allows me to look at design and conception challenges with new eyes.

How did your redesign/the magazine evolve over the 6 years that you were the Creative Director?
Diana Vreeland famously said, “Pink is the navy blue of India.” When I first arrived in Bombay from New York, I felt bombarded with color. Its vibrancy radiates from everything from the saris worn on the street to the billboards of Bollywood. So, in my first round of redesign for the magazine in 2011, I incorporated orange, yellow and pink into the type and graphic elements. But now, six years later, it is a decision I cringe at the thought of, in the same way one looks back at high school fashion. What was I thinking?! I think the main reason for that change of heart is my own transformation from tourist to local. Which isn’t to say that color doesn’t belong in design (Indian or otherwise). Quite the contrary. But I think after allowing myself to be saturated with the culture’s obsession with color, I’ve been able to look past the surface “exotic” and see the serious craft. In this sense, I feel the design of the magazine has matured with me. In its current incarnation, Vogue India’s design is more monochrome and simple, mainly to let the images and content speak for itself.

Are you using social media as a tool to find talent?
I am an Instagram addict and have found several photographers and illustrators using the app. I often find people keep their Instagram accounts more up to date than their own online portfolios. Its a great tool.

The Daily Promo – Joe Toreno

- - The Daily Promo


Joe Toreno


Who printed it? 

Next day flyers. 
I’ve used them for my last few promos. I really like their matte paper stock and they’re pretty affordable. My goal with my printed promos is to try and keep the budget around $500-$700 for the entire thing including postage. 

Who designed it? 
I designed it myself which is why it’s so simple. Just a couple photos and my contact info.

Who edited the images? 
I edited the images.  With these printed promos, I try to highlight some commercial work as well as some personal work.  In this case the commercial photo was a portrait of Ice Cube that I shot for People magazine. The personal was a photo of a falcon I shot for an ongoing series of animal portraits. 

How many did you make?
 I made 500 which mainly goes to magazine editors and a few reps

How many times a year do you send out promos? 
I try to send out two printed promos a year in conjunction with a couple email promos. 

Personal Projects: Sam Robinson

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Sam Robinson

‘Out of Office’

Sam Robinson

As a creative, email mailers are a widely used promotional tool to share work and reach a wider digital audience. Sam began sending a quarterly newsletter like this in early 2013, sharing new projects and things he had been up to as a photographer/director. It became a bit of fun in the studio when the Out Of Office replies started to come back and, mixed in amongst the more standard replies, were a few amusing messages.

The autoreply email is typically skimmed over and probably not read past the initial subject line but what Sam discovered is that some people had taken this automatic process to turn it into something personal. So he collaborated with illustrator Charlie Phillips to create bespoke prints of the emails overlaid upon his photography. He then sent the physical print back to the unsuspecting sender creating a fun contrast to the digital thing it had triggered from.

The response over the years has been amazing, with people sharing their prints across social media as well as people actually taking time to do something different with their auto replies themselves from seeing the project.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Promo – Nathan Perkel

- - The Daily Promo

 

Nathan Perkel


Who printed the zine?
Influence Graphics

Who designed it?
I did the layout with some design aid from Ryan Giese

Who edited the image?
Edited by me

How many zines did you make?
Edition of 50

Which of these two promos was more successful and why?
I am personally more attached to the zine because of the amount of work that went into it as well as the experience of shooting it. But the bags seemed to get more of an initial response from people as it was different than most of my promos. Ultimately, both projects yielded a good amount of response and interest in other work of mine

Who printed the bag?
4imprint

Who designed it?
Designed it myself.

Who edited the image?
Edited by me.

How many bags did you make?
100

How many times a year do you send out promos?
2 or 3 printed promos and seasonal email promos

What made you want to do the bags as well as the cards?
I wanted to do the bags as they are functional and offer an extra layer of promotion in the event that they are worn. Also, I hate that in New York, plastic bags are given out so freely. I hope that the bags I made will reduce even just a handful of plastic bags given by stores.

Who printed the cards?
The cards were self-designed and printed by Influence Graphics
I did 250 cards – 100 went with the bags and the extra 150  went out separate to additional photo editors and art buyers as well.

.

 

 

 

This Week in Photography Books: Michael Larkey

 

I’ll make you guys a promise.

I’m not going to promote Antidote, my new photo retreat, here in the column each week. In fact, this will be the last time.

I’m mentioning it now, as this week, we created a new Student/Educator Pass, for $499, which makes the event far-more-affordable for the next generation of photographers, and the under-paid professors who teach them.

I’m sharing the news, because rather than simply big-upping my own efforts, I think it’s important to stay honest here, as I always have. If I can criticize others, I should have the stones to do it to myself as well.

When it came time to create a price for Antidote, I didn’t give it much thought. I looked around at what some high end workshop places charge, and slotted in accordingly.

But everything I know about the creative life in 2017 flies in the face of such thinking. No one’s handing money out these days, and everyone is hustling hard to make ends meet. Whether it’s buyouts at the NYT, or galleries closing all the time, we all know you have to work for whatever you get, and opportunities don’t grow on trees.

I’m glad I realized my mistake, and am now making my event within reach of you guys, my readers, as well as students and teachers across the US. I should have done it before I launched, but I forgot to consider the most crucial of questions: could I, as an artist/writer/adjunct professor, afford to come to my own retreat?

Now, I can answer that question more appropriately.

Honestly, the only reason I started Antidote is because adjunct teaching pays so poorly. It is literally impossible to make a living doing it, and I say that having just spent a year teaching full time, and being the chair of my art department.

I’m going with the DIY method with Antidote, even if it’s not my preference. Building things from scratch is hard, and I’d rather be able to make a living working at the school I’ve taught at for 12 years.

But it doesn’t work like that anymore.

Despite your level of fear and anxiety about the current geopolitical climate, we all know things are much better than they were in the depths of the Great Recession. The economy has recovered, in some ways, but not in others.

Disposable income, a term I used to find hilarious, is no longer in wide use. It’s an anachronism, as nothing is easy to come by in the Post-2008 world. Making matters worse, income equality continues to rise, so that levels of extreme wealth and poverty now coincide in close proximity.

I don’t talk so much about the 21st Century Hustle these days, but even old catchphrases can come back around again. If you value my opinion, I’m recommending that after you chill out for summer, (everyone’s entitled to that,) try to make something entirely new.

Maybe start up a collaborative project with some friends? Make a movie? Or a T-shirt line? Or a photo ’zine?

I don’t know. But maybe this is the time for all of us to embrace the DIY attitude, even if we don’t want to use a dorky term like “maker.”

I’m on this rant, if you must know, having just looked at “squirrel fight,” a few issues of a photo ‘zine that turned up in the mail this week, from Michael Larkey. (Sometimes, I open submissions before they go into the stack.)

I didn’t think to look at the return address, and there was no contact info beyond Michael’s email address and website, so I have no context on these little ‘zines. I got to look at them fresh, yet they felt perfect for today.

Near as I can tell, “squirrel fight” has a hot-time-summer-in-the-city kind of vibe, straight out of NYC. (I’ve admitted New York gets a lot of coverage here. It’s not on purpose.) “squirrel fight” hearkens back in time, with the in-your-Moms-basement style of production, but even through they’re small, and some are on copy paper, they’re still carefully done.

It could not have cost Michael much money to make these, and they’re so brief. One has poems by Rilke, but the wordless ones are most captivating. My favorite, which might be because of the higher print quality, is the fold-out poster. It’s immediate, sharp, and contrasty.

The subway entrance gives context, and assures us we’re in New York. We see a cab, a pretty kid in flip flops, an Asian person of indeterminate gender, and a guy who has a gigolo hairstyle, circa Richard Gere in the 80’s.

I know Rob shows promo-mailings all the time, and that many of you professional shooters make them. Maybe this is similar, and I just don’t see a lot of that stuff.

But one “squirrel fight” seemed to be a washed-out ode to the viewing platforms at the Empire State Building, and another has a picture of the same tall spire seen through a scrim of some sort.

These ‘zines are a bit Romantic. More “someone who moved to the city” than a “kid who grew up there” kind of love, because a native would be more cynical. (I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.)

These ‘zines are cool as hell, and I think you’ll like them too. Now, once you’re done with your holiday, your assignment is to make something cool like this too.

Bottom Line: Cool, throwback photo ‘zines about New York

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Brian Doben

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Brian Doben

I started ‘At Work’ after 15 years as a commercial photographer. After all that time I remembered that I became a photographer not for money, fame, or travel, but to get out of my own life and start telling stories of others through portrait. Before ‘At Work’ I used to walk in with an armada, both in terms of crew and over thinking the scene, but the story was right in front of me, and the magic was two feet in front of me. I realized my job is to kind of sit back, see it, and then capture it. Now, I walk into the space where my subjects do their work and I let them talk first. And I find when I do that and I listen, and I don’t interrupt, there’s a trust that comes.

We spend more time working than anything else, so what people choose to do with that time is precious. I went to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles to photograph their Taxidermist not knowing he was going to walk us to the area of the exhibit with the family of three elephants. I have a family of three elephants tattooed on my arm, to represent my wife, daughter, and I. I’ve had that tattoo for several years. I got it because I heard elephants follow the same path for generations and my wish for my family is that we stay together through all that time. I had no idea that I was going to take that picture that day but these moments are gifts that is what ‘At Work’ all about.

It’s a conversation, it’s people sharing their inner thoughts about why they do what they do. There’s something to be said about open conversation and the ability to just talk and share what’s going on inside their mind. It just was kind of this snowball effect, one thing leads to another leads to another.

I try to empower the person to own their space. And then the challenge at times can be how I then have to capture the image, because sometimes it’s easier to pose everything but that’s not necessarily how they would really sit on their desk or on in their chair, so I ask them to turn it to what would really suit them best.

Sometimes it’s a space that blurs the lines between life and work like Muffy Kroha’s eclectic and bright home, and sometimes it’s much more at the edge. I’ve been from Antarctica to the North Pole to Madagascar. Then, in Havana, Cuba, it was hotter than you can imagine in a tiny room, it was just extreme conditions but what I found there was so beautiful. All these street performers were getting ready and there was this magic kind of family sense that they had with each other where they were helping each other. It was just an incredible, quiet scene. Just seeing people who love what they do on that scale took me out of that very sweaty, hot situation and just made me really excited.

What I’m learning more and more in my journey within this world is that perfection is unobtainable because in every moment we’ll see things differently. We’ll see a moment that should have been, could have been, but what’s important is the actual moment that happens. To really create ‘authentic, organic imagery’ is to allow it not be perfect. I want to create relatable images, not aspirational.

You can view more of the At Work project here: http://www.atworkproject.com

And follow Brian on Instagram @briandobenhttps://www.instagram.com/briandoben/

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.